In a world of $100 bottles of Barbaresco, the reasonably priced cellar-quality 2006 Ceretto Asij Barbaresco is a rare gem.
Ceretto is a story about quality. At the turn of the 20th century, the youthful Riccardo Ceretto was making wine from his family’s vineyard in Piedmont, Italy, for the customers of his parent’s country inn. His winemaking skills earned a job and eventual partnership at a local winery. By the 1930s, he was producing wine under his own name, and in the 1960s, he brought his sons, Bruno and Marcello, into the business.
Marcello took on the winemaking tasks and Bruno focused on building the business. Together, the brothers began acquiring vineyards in Barbaresco and Barolo and changing the way wine was made in Piedmont.
In the 1970s, they were the first Piedmont producers to install stainless-steel tanks for fermentation. And they brought other modern winemaking techniques to a region steeped in tradition, reducing the time consumers had to wait for Barolo and Barbaresco wines to be drinkable.
In 1987, Ceretto began using the Monsordo Bernardina vineyards and estate in Alba. They produce six wines, including the Asij Barbaresco, at the property, formerly the country house of King Vittorio Emanuele II. In 2000, they purchased the estate and passed the reigns of the company to their children.
The 2006 vintage was superb in Barolo and Barbaresco. The 2006 Asij Barbaresco is a blend of nebbiolo grapes from three vineyards, including wine from Ceretto’s prestigious Bricco Asili Barbaresco vineyard. After fermentation, it was aged for 18 months in French oak barrels, of which 70 percent were 1 year old and 30 percent were new.
I decanted the 2006 Ceretto Asij Barbaresco because even with modern winemaking techniques, nebbiolo’s aggressive tannins and acidity are countered with aeration. As the wine breathed over the course of three hours, the tart cherry and herbal aromas with little flavor evolved to floral, red fruit and spicy scents. Flavors of cranberry and pomegranates developed around a medium body with good balance and length. It illustrates how beneficial decanting is to young Barbaresco and Barolo wines.
The 2006 Ceretto Asij Barbaresco is a delightful wine at a reasonable price. You can enjoy it now if you follow my steps, but it will develop greater complexity over the next decade. Regardless of when you open the 2006 Ceretto Asij Barbaresco, remember that wines, like humans, do better when they are breathing.
Pour the 2006 Ceretto Asij Barbaresco with prime rib or a grilled T-bone steak, roasted lamb seasoned with rosemary, or a classic Piedmont dish of mushroom risotto.
The 2006 Ceretto Asij Barbaresco retails for approximately $44.
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